According to a recent interview with the United States Ryder Cup team captain, Tom Watson has said that if Tiger Woods is healthy and playing well, he will most definitely be one of Watson’s three captain’s picks. That is assuming Tiger does not automatically qualify for one of the nine spots reserved for those who have the most points on the official Ryder Cup points list.
This year’s Ryder Cup will be the 40th edition of the matches. The Ryder Cup is a biennial golf competition between teams from the United States and Europe. The location of the tournament alternates every two years between Europe and America. The 2014 tournament will be held at the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Resort in Perthshire, Scotland on September 26-28, 2014. The European teams have won five out the previous six tournaments, with the United States last winning in 2008 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Home course advantage is a big deal with tens of thousands of fans coming out to support the golfers.
Tiger Woods has been recovering from back surgery for a pinched nerve. He did not compete in either of this year’s two major tournaments so far, the Masters and the U.S. Open. He is currently in 69th place in the official Ryder Cup points list, having earned just 763 points. In contrast, the leader Bubba Watson has 6,736 points. Patrick Reed holds the ninth place spot, the final spot for automatic qualification, with 3,257 points. Woods has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to earn qualification himself on the course.
It is likely that Tiger will only play in three more events before the window for earning points closes. Luckily for him, two of those events are Majors, the British Open Championship and the PGA Tournament, both of which can earn him double the points because of their prestige. The other event is the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational that Tiger Woods has won four times in its current form, most recently just last year. He also won the tournament four times when it was under the former name World Golf Championships – NEC Invitational. So there is a possibility that Tiger could qualify on merit, but he would have to win a major and finish at the very least within the top three in the other two, which in his current form is not likely. Tiger Woods still has to show that he is healthy and playing well to even earn a captain’s pick by Watson to play in the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Tom Watson has been on four Ryder Cup teams and previously captained the American team in 1991 to victory. He has chosen Andy North and Raymond Floyd as his vice-captains for the event. Watson is a golfer who knows how to play on links courses in the United Kingdom, having won The British Open Championship five times in his career, and narrowly missed out on a sixth in 2009, to become the oldest man ever to win a major at age 59. His experience will be a great advantage to the younger players who respect him a lot. In the interview in Sports Illustrated, Watson says that Woods will be an automatic pick is he is “healthy and playing well,” but Watson expects Tiger to tell him if there is any pain going on in the weeks before the Ryder Cup.
Watson wrote in his Captain’s blog this year that President of the PGA, Ted Bishop, is his stats guru and has calculated that the magic number to qualify is 4,637 points, something that the top four players have already achieved. Currently the men in position to qualify for the nine spots in the Ryder Cup, in reverse order, are Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jordan Speith, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson. Phil Mickelson sits in 10th place. Some of Watson’s other possible captain’s picks, besides Tiger Woods if he is playing well, are Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, and Hunter Mahan, all of whom have played in the Ryder Cup in previous years.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash